A Poem is Like Looking at Life Through a 3rd Eye

The beginnings of Through the 3rd Eye date back to the small classrooms of Immanuel-St. James Lutheran School in Grand Rapids, where Rodney Torreson, former Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, still teaches. Torreson has always stirred poetry into his mix of English classes and throughout the years has established extraordinary creative writing skills in his students. As a result, his students have won numerous awards in the local Dyer-Ives Poetry Contest. Many of his students have continued writing with him even after middle school to further develop their skills, or more simply, for their love of poetry. Small meetings at Schuler Books and Music soon became a weekly occurrence, and as a group, his former students even published a small Chapbook of poems. When Torreson was named Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, he called upon his special group of writers for assistance with a website that would promote poetry of young writers in the greater Grand Rapids area.

We, the staff of Through the 3rd Eye, hope to assist fledgling writers in a variety of ways: by publishing poetry of high merit, offering personal responses to submitted poems, and including suggestions for revision on poems not accepted for publication. Because we believe that a young person's growth as a poet depends, in part, upon the poetry he or she reads, we will spotlight the work of established poets and comment on the elements that we believe make his or her poems successful. By doing this, we hope that young writers may gain rich insights into poetry and apply them to their own writing. The site will also feature articles about poets who have earned recognition for their work. In addition, we will actively seek poems for Through the 3rd Eye and provide a current list of publishing opportunities for young people, as well as share information we hear regarding poetry conferences for youth. It is our hope that through our website many young people further develop their understanding of what a poem can be, find inspiration for their own writing, and grow in their love for poetry.

Defining a Poem

"A poem is like looking at things through a 3rd eye," Mr. Torreson tells his young students. What other way is there to explain a poem? Robert Frost said, "Poetry is what gets lost in translation." In this way, a poem can be different for everyone. Everyone writes from behind the lens of their own worldviews, but with poetry, what you see is not always what you get. Torreson encourages us to see things in a new way, because like Frost said, a poet's job is to pick up on subtleties that others normally wouldn't. Poetry is taking things, anything from animals to people to objects, and defining them creatively and with rich language. On Mark Flanagan's website "What is Poetry? Grasping at the Indefinable," he says, "Poetry is artistically rendering words in such a way as to evoke intense emotion or an Ah Ha! experience from the reader." Poets are very careful about the words they allow on a page; generally, wording must be concise, and surrounding words must also be considered. The most interesting poems are those that contain words with more than one meaning, words with consonance, and words that evoke emotion in the reader. It is easy to see that poetry cannot be tied down to a single definition; poetry is defined by the poet.

For many, the best way to know poetry is to read poetry. Check out a bookstore for poetry books and magazines and remember to enjoy our featured poems; perhaps a poem you submit may be recognized on our website one day!

Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.